Australians rally as Assange seeks asylum in Ecuador
As Julian Assange seeks political asylum in Ecuador, concerned Australian citizens will protest their government’s treatment of the WikiLeaks founder in Sydney on Thursday.
Assange is seeking asylum to protect him from extradition to the United States, "a country where espionage and treason are punished with the death penalty", and where prominent politicians have called for his assassination.
The Australian government has previously stated that it would not intervene to prevent the US extraditing Assange from either Sweden or the UK. It has also passed legislation which will make it easier for Assange to be extradited from Australia, should he ever return here.
As Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, has pointed out, his asylum application makes him “the first ever political refugee from our country going to another country”.
“It’s shameful that Julian Assange has been put in this position”, said Matt Watt, spokesperson of the Support Assange & WikiLeaks Coalition. “He is a courageous, multi-award winning journalist facing torture or worse in the US, and the Gillard government has done nothing to protect him.”
Assange’s asylum bid comes shortly after Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, visited Libya to personally lobby for the release of Australian lawyer, Melinda Taylor. Carr has himself stated that Melinda Taylor’s employer, the International Criminal Court, breached protocols in Libya and should apologise.
And last October, Prime Minister Gillard found time to make a reassuring personal telephone call to an Australian teenager charged with drug offences in Indonesia.
“Our government’s actions make a mockery of their claims about ‘consular assistance’”, said Mr Watt. “In doing the right thing by other Australians in trouble overseas they have highlighted the wrongs done to Assange, who has not been charged with any offence in any country.”
Protesters will be at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 123 Pitt St, Sydney, Thursday 21 June from 5pm. A vigil is being held in Brisbane while Assange awaits the result of his asylum application.
For more information contact Matt Watt on 0409 463 786 or Cassie Findlay on 0412 355 899.